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VCU's Trauma Center director wins regional EMS award

The Old Dominion EMS Alliance recognized Michel Aboutanos for outstanding contributions to emergency medical services (EMS) in Virginia

Michel Aboutanos, MD holding "Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a Physician" award

By Laura Rossacher

In recognition of the important role hospital providers play in partnering with the EMS system to improve patient outcomes, the Old Dominion Emergency Medical Service Alliance (ODEMSA) awarded Michel Aboutanos, MD, with the 2022 award for "Outstanding Contribution to EMS by a Physician." Aboutanos serves as chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgical Services at VCU, the medical director of VCU Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center and Trauma System Network, and the director of the VCU Injury and Violence Prevention Program.

"I am truly humbled by this award. My contribution is only a reflection of the amazing teams of hospital and prehospital providers that I have been so privileged to work with," said Aboutanos. "We are all working hand in hand to serve the injured in Virginia with sheer dedication, compassion, knowledge and the conviction that we can deliver the best level of EMS care in the country. I am proud to work with our EMS colleagues and share this award with all of them."

Quick and skilled emergency care matters

Without EMS providers, heart attacks, strokes, falls, car crashes, and violent injuries would lead to many more negative health outcomes, including death. They are often the first to arrive when someone has a medical emergency and offer medical care until a patient has been transported to a hospital for specialized care. To provide the best possible care, pre-hospital providers rely on continuous training and highly effective partnerships with their area hospitals. Patients’ lives depend on it.

Champion for training and mentorship of prehospital providers

"EMS providers are part of our trauma team, plain and simple," said Aboutanos, who served as medical director for VCU’s paramedic program in VCU’s Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education (CTCCE) until 2018. Hundreds of paramedics actively working and volunteering in Virginia today benefited from the gold standard of education and clinical experience Aboutanos provided during his tenure. This included offering aspiring paramedics the opportunity of clinical rotations throughout VCU Medical Center’s trauma and burn programs.

Pre-hospital trauma care is also a major theme of VCU’s annual Rao R. Ivatury Trauma Symposium, an event Aboutanos has spearheaded for the past 10 years. EMS providers are encouraged to attend to further their education and understanding of the latest trends in trauma care, from prehospital care to rehab.

To highlight the important work of EMS teams, each year Aboutanos and his team celebrate the Shining Knight Gala, which honors those who protect and save lives in Central Virginia. At the gala, dozens of EMS providers are recognized as “shining knights” for their heroic roles in saving the life of a specific trauma patient at VCU Medical Center that would likely not have survived anywhere else.

Shaping the state’s emergency medical services system

A member of the Virginia EMS Advisory Board, Aboutanos spearheaded the development of the Virginia Trauma System Plan, an integrated plan with the Virginia EMS system to optimize the statewide prehospital care of trauma patients. He was the first Trauma System coordinator on the EMS executive committee and currently serves as the inaugural chair of the Trauma Systems Administrative and Governance Committee.

The award by the Old Dominion EMS Alliance, which is comprised of 11 regional EMS councils from across Virginia, makes Aboutanos a finalist for the 2022 Governor’s EMS Award in November. All nominees had to demonstrate exceptional achievements and dedication to the EMS system across the region, state, and nation.

"We congratulate Dr. Aboutanos for this outstanding recognition," said Michael Roussos, president of VCU Medical Center. "Every interaction matters when a patient’s life is on the line. As the only comprehensive Level I adult, pediatric and burn trauma center in the region, we routinely treat the most complex cases. This award is about teamwork, mentorship and excellence in the name of patient care."